Established European quick-serve chain Quick is under scrutiny this week after its parent company, GTB, announced it will reduce or eliminate the restaurants from its portfolio. Quick units are located Belgium, France, and Luxembourg—a region that has been difficult for American quick service to infiltrate.
As the opportunity for such a takeover knocks, the question is who will answer. A total of 407 locations are at stake, and Rueters reports that GTB will invest $58.3 billion in the opening of 30 more Quicks this year.
Although none of the major American fast food players have stepped forward as yet, analysts from Belgian media outlet De Standaard have proposed Wendy’s as a possible buyer. It would not be the first international venture for Wendy’s. Its Canadian acquisition, Tim Hortons, is having “fantastic” success in Canada, according to Wendy’s Dave Thomas in a recent interview with QSR. And Salomon Smith Barney reports that the company is financially able to complete a takeover of this size.
However, Wendy’s has not had an entirely successful record abroad. “[Wendy’s] has had a difficult time overseas,” Thomas told QSR. “Still, I think there are some areas overseas that are right for us, but we need to watch carefully how we manage that part of the business…Wendy’s has so much to do right here in the United States—and Tim Hortons has so much opportunity in Canada—that we’ve had to put our priorities where they should really belong.”
The three closest competitors for the Quick buy, according to a report from Salomon Smith Barney, are Burger King, McDonald’s, and Tricon Global. Burger King pulled out of the French market in 1997, and is unsettled now with its current CEO about to resign and a replacement not expected until as late as March 2001. Tricon remains burdened and inflexible with debt. And McDonald’s has had trouble internationally from angry citizens who call the fast food giant imperialist, and have in some cases resorted to boycotts and vandalism against the company. Despite recent problems, McDonald’s already profits about three times as much as Quick in France, and so is already well positioned there.